Governance and Accounting for the Management of Ecological Systems (GAMES)

Developing new approaches and tools for the sound governance of nature

Governance and Accounting for the Management of Ecological Systems (GAMES)

Developing new approaches and tools for the sound governance of nature


The challenge

Natural capital, commonly defined as the stock of renewable and non-renewable natural resources such as plants, animals, air, water, soils, or minerals that combine to provide a flow of benefits to people’, is a relatively new area for conservation research and practice. By demonstrating how nature contributes to human well-being, the natural capital approach aims to influence decision making, action, investment and business intervention to improve biodiversity conservation.

Over the past two decades this approach has led to the development of innovative ways to assess and value biodiversity and ecosystem services. There is emerging evidence of success in using these approaches and tools to inform decision making in one-off case studies, but mostly at a small scale and under favourable conditions.

Incorporating a natural capital approach into resource and land-use decisions and management systematically, at larger scales, remains elusive. Responding to this challenge requires refining our understanding of complex natural resource governance and accountability systems while creating links between private and public, national and local approaches to natural capital accounting and management.

The response

Governance contexts – the formal institutional, political, legal economic and social setting of conservation – are often poorly considered and addressed in conservation implementation. The Governance and Accounting for the Management of Ecological Systems (GAMES) project in which the Luc Hoffmann Institute (LHI) is a partner tests a combination of ‘diagnostic’ and accountability tools with WWF leaders on ‘valuing nature’ initiatives.

The project will improve the capacity of conservation investments to meet both ecological and social goals.

The methods and tools have been discussed with WWF ‘champions’ from the start of this project.  WWF Indonesia is using the methods for issue identification and strategic decision making as part of a programme in the RIMBA corridor, channelling green economy investments into Sumatra, Indonesia. Current work involves supporting the WWF-UK Water Programme in developing accounting frameworks for the collective management of river catchments’ natural capital.

The impact

The project is:

  • Supporting WWF by giving staff frameworks and materials to improve their use of biodiversity and ecosystem services information in conservation interventions and obtain measurable biodiversity and human well-being outcomes.
  • Helping explain the different ways in which natural capital is being defined, negotiated and accounted for in situations in which WWF is actively involved.
  • Innovating on interlinked governance and accounting systems for natural capital. This includes developing replicable methods, knowledge management systems and capacity-building materials for the restoration and maintenance of natural capital in priority conservation areas.

Main Image: ©Jürgen Freund / WWF

Project partners

Project leaders

Dr Clément Feger (University of Cambridge and LHI), Dr Bhaskar Vira (University of Cambridge), Emily McKenzie (WWF-US and Natural Capital Project), Dr Louise Gallagher (LHI), Prof. Laurent Mermet (AgroParisTech).

Project development

The concept was developed with WWF Economics and Sustainability lead (Emily McKenzie) and LHI Research Programme Head (Louise Gallagher) with input from a WWF Advisory Group.

Start date: 1 July 2016

End date:  17 October 2017

Related material

Improve conservation impact – understand the local context (introducing context diagnostic video series)

Alejandro GuizarGovernance and Accounting for the Management of Ecological Systems (GAMES)